It Ain’t All Bad: Monthly Good News on Climate
In the midst of this month’s heatwave, when most of Oregon is in a state of drought, some of us may have found ourselves wondering if this is the new normal — and then feeling incredibly depressed at that thought. For those of us tuned in to climate news, we know that many parts of world have endured hellish temperatures this month – in Western Europe where extreme heat is normally not very prevalent, or places like Pakistan, where over 1,000 people have lost their lives due to the heatwave. Sometimes it’s all too much to think about. And I don’t know about you, but when I feel that way I’m tempted to tune out the problems of the world and watch waaaay too much bad reality TV. So if you’re trying to stave off the harshness of reality, don’t veg out to that “Chrisley Knows Best” Marathon just yet — give some good news on climate a try. There are many reasons to feel hopeful!
- 400 Oregon Businesses Call for Climate Action — 350 is a significant number when it comes to climate. In the words of Dr. James Hansen, one of the most respected climatologists in the world, “CO2 will need to be reduced from [current levels] to at most 350 ppm to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed.” The current level at which we’re pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is not feasible if we are to sustain a healthy and stable climate. And right now the ratio of carbon dioxide molecules to all other molecules in the atmosphere is 403 ppm, well above Dr. Hansen’s benchmark of 350 ppm. In an effort to highlight the urgency of climate action, the Oregon Business Climate Declaration sought to increase the number of signatories to 350 to match that very significant number. The response was overwhelming—so much so, that the list now includes 400 signatories in over 60 cities across Oregon (an instance when a 400+ climate number is very good!). Surpassing the goal of 350 signatories in such a short amount of time illustrates just how many Oregon businesses desire climate leadership and action in Oregon, calling for our state to be a leader in tackling this issue that threatens our very way of life. Read more here.
- Our State Treasurer has stepped up to increase Oregon’s investment in renewables — Last week, Ted Wheeler announced three key actions to increase our state’s investment in renewable energy funds:
- He’s working to ensure that Oregon doubles its investments in renewable energy by January 2020, and double them again by 2030. And he says we’re on track to do that! “As a fiduciary of Oregon’s $90 billion portfolio, I am responsible for choosing investments that financially benefit our taxpayers, schools, communities and retired public employees for today and for decades to come. I believe I can fulfill that responsibility while at the same tie making choices that preserve our environment and protect our climate.”
- He won’t support new coal investments, having come to the conclusion that coal will soon become a “stranded asset.”
- He’s commissioned a study to see whether Oregon can replace fossil fuel companies in its fixed income portfolio – meaning he’s actively looking to see how these funds can be replaced with similar risk-return investments not tied to dirty energy. Go, Ted!
- China, the world’s top emitter of carbon, has committed to make deep pollutions cuts — Last last month the world learned that China has added a carbon intensity reduction target to its 2030 climate goals. This represents an increased commitment to climate action, following previous commitments to expand clean energy and cap coal use. China has proposed peaking its carbon emissions by 2030 – at least 10 years earlier than previously expected. The new carbon intensity reduction target aims to achieve 60-65% below 2005 emission levels by 2030. They have also committed that non-fossil energy sources will represent at least 20 percent of their energy portfolio by 2030.
- A new research study shows the U.S. environmental movement is kicking butt — A study quantifying the impacts of “green politics” has revealed that more environmentally friendly states, like Vermont and New York, have been able to cut their emissions even amidst population growth and other factors. However states where climate skepticism is more prevalent have seen emissions rise. This study points to great things for Oregon, where the Oregon Values and Belief Survey reveals over 50% of Oregonians across the state consider the environment a key priority.
- Be sure to tell your 13 year-old daughter (or your inner child): One Direction took a serious stance on climate change! — One Direction, the British boy band who has brought us melodic treats such as “Steal My Girl” and “Story of My Life”, has launched a new social media campaign calling for climate action. The campaign, Action 1D, works to encourage fans to put pressure on world leaders about issues like climate change and poverty. Since most of their fans are younger this is pretty cool, as they’re creating a forum for their fans to voice what kind of a future world they want to live in. And whether you like One Direction or not this is still a big deal considering they have access to over 24 million fans on Twitter and 37 million fans on Facebook. Their voice matters, and they’re using it to get young people engaged with the climate movement.
So don’t lose hope just yet; climate action is taking place here at home, and around the world. When you think about it, this is a truly exciting time to be alive. We get to witness and be a part of a collective, evolving consciousness when it comes to making changes now that will create a better global community to future generations. That being said, we’re all human, and we can all get overwhelmed by the bad news. So take comfort in the good news, and watch one just episode of bad reality TV to escape it if you must. I won’t judge.
– Devon Downeysmith, Climate Communications & Outreach Manager